Listen Up to Land Your Next Job

Inverview ListeningMany people prepare for interviews by practicing what they’re going to say and what message they want to get across about themselves. That’s helpful, but even more important to interviewing well is not just what you’re saying, but what the interviewer is telling you. If you listen, they’ll tell you exactly what they’re looking for. The following are some key tips to listening during your interview:

1. Don’t assume you know what’s most important to the interviewer.

You know what they say when you assume. Ask questions, find out what the hiring manager is really looking for and frame your answers accordingly. If you make assumptions, you may talk up a part of your background that has no significance whatsoever to the interviewer.

2. Don’t assume everyone you interview with has the same agenda.

These days my clients frequently end up talking to multiple individuals within an organization. Again, you don’t want to make the assumption that they’re all looking for the same thing in their hire. You need to ascertain what’s most important to each individual with whom you speak and shape your answers to meet their needs.

3. Don’t focus on what you’re going to say next.

Be present and focused, listen to your interviewer, they could be giving you key information, for instance telling you exactly what the most important skill is for the person they’re hiring. By not focusing on what they’re saying and instead plotting your next verbal move, you could miss an opportunity to sell yourself.

4. Do ask open-ended questions.

Asking open-ended questions beginning with what, when or where can be helpful in gathering information about the position for which you’re interviewing. Not only will this help you better frame your answers according to the interviewer’s needs, it enables you to perform your own due diligence to gather information and decide whether the company or position is a good fit for you.

5. Do actively listen.

This takes concentration and patience. It means not only paying attention to the verbal communication, but also paying attention to non-verbal cues found in body language. This helps you identify how strongly your interviewer feels about what they’re saying and can give you guidance in your own response. It also goes a long way towards building rapport.

Having a compelling message about your strengths and skills is important, but if you’re not in tune with your audience, you could end up selling something they’re not buying, tune in and listen and you’ll better be able to sell yourself.


Acing Your Executive Job Interview

ExecutivesOver the years, countless executives have said to me that all they need to do is get the interview and they’ll land the job. Really? If everyone feels this way, including your competition, how can it be true?

I’ve worked with hundreds of very capable and competent executives over the years who excel at improving profits and stakeholder value, enhancing operating efficiencies, reducing costs, launching successful start-ups, orchestrating turnarounds, and myriad of other complex competencies, but for many, they’re just not that great at communicating that information.

Just because you’ve excelled in your executive role does not necessarily translate into being a stellar communicator. Case in point, who can forget BP CEO, Tony Hayward’s famous words regarding the 2010 Gulf oil spill, “There’s no one who wants this thing over more than I do. You know, I’d like my life back.” A PR nightmare, he took a beating in the media for those words at a critical time for his company.

That’s just one very public example that illustrates even C-suite executives can use some coaching to brush up on their communication skills. interviewing, whether it’s with the media or for a job is a skill in and of itself. When it’s for a job, interviewing involves effectively communicating your strengths while avoiding highlighting any weaknesses and like most skills, it’s something that improves with practice.

I frequently work with clients who epitomize the saying “you don’t know what you don’t know.” What I mean is, frequently clients don’t realize that how they’re answering a question is not furthering their own cause until they’re role playing with me and I point out how their answer plays and a better way to frame it.

The bottom line is if you want to ace that job interview, put some time and effort into your preparation. Do some role playing with a seasoned coach who can help polish the diamond in the rough that may be your rusty interviewing techniques.



The Outplacement Alternative

LifesaverNo one wants to lose their job. Actually, I have run into some clients who were unhappy at their jobs and were thrilled when they were downsized. But that is the exception rather than the rule.

As a country, we’ve been riding the great recession wave and in its wake there have been thousands of lay-offs, downsizings, and job eliminations. Whatever you want to call it, it’s usually tough to take if you’re caught up in the changing tides. There is one good thing that comes out of some corporate reorganizations . . . outplacement.

Some companies, who care about their people (or at least want to give the appearance that they do) offer a lifeline, they provide outplacement services for the employees they’ve displaced. But what if you’re company doesn’t offer that benefit, can you still compete in today’s job market? There is an alternative, you can hire your own career transition expert to help with your career transition.

At The Imagemakers, Ink! LLC, we do provide outplacement services for companies, but our core business is providing exceptional career services to individuals whose companies have left them adrift. You can expect outstanding resumes & cover letters and customized coaching on performing effective job searches, interviewing techniques and negotiating tactics.

Working with a career search expert offers the displaced employees a chance to not only keep their heads above water and land on their feet, but also to land in a better place. Many people ask why companies offer outplacement. It’s a win-win because while it helps the employees who’ve been let go, it also let’s those left behind know their company cares and won’t just leave them adrift should they be on the next workforce reduction wave.

That’s one plus for the companies who provide this lifeline. But what are some other reasons companies choose to provide outplacement? Besides treating their employees with dignity and respect, it’s just the right thing to do. Also, in these times teeming with tweets, viral videos and people crying foul on Facebook, it can help keep a company’s image and reputation from being tainted. Not to mention going a long way to provide goodwill, thereby heading off any lawsuits from especially embittered employees.

But whether it’s provided by the company or you decide to invest in yourself and your future, working with a career search strategist will enable you to come out on top in today’s competitive job market. Whether company provided or your own personal investment, working with an expert will ensure yourself a smoother career transition and go a long way to calm the waters of today’s turbulent times.